The Minnesota Vikings appear to have a competition going on between T.J. Clemmings and Andre Smith.
Who will play right tackle for the Minnesota Vikings in 2016?
Andre Smith was supposed to be the answer to that question. But not so fast.
It appears as of today that the Vikings have not yet settled on a starting right tackle.
Smith was going to square off against Phil Loadholt for the right tackle job but that went out the window when Loadholt failed to come back from last year’s Achilles tear and retired.
Some were ready to hand the starting job to Andre Smith after Loadholt called it quits, but Mike Zimmer, Tony Sparano and the gang were not so quick to make that assumption.
Smith was the starter for Friday night’s preseason opener against the Bengals but gave up a sack on Teddy Bridgewater and landed in Mike Zimmer’s doghouse.
Smith was demoted to the second team for practice on Sunday, but was back with the ones on Monday.
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And on Tuesday who was with the first team at right tackle? It was back to T.J. Clemmings (via ESPN).
Zimmer wasn’t only trying to send a message to Andre Smith by making him work with the second team. Clearly, there is a genuine open competition going on between Smith and Clemmings.
This will all come as a shock to those who looked at the Vikings’ offseason moves and assumed the offensive line was set.
It will not come as a shock to those who recognized a few relevant facts:
1. Andre Smith is not the same player he was a few years ago in Cincinnati.
2. T.J. Clemmings has a year of experience under his belt as a starting right tackle.
3. Clemmings struggled in pass protection last year but he is a young player and there is room for improvement.
4. Andre Smith on the other hand is not a young player and most likely is declining.
Of the two players, Clemmings clearly has the most upside. Right now the Vikings appear to be in the process of determining whether Clemmings is the better option for the near-term.
If Clemmings does win the starting job, at least you still have Smith as a backup option.
It will be interesting to see which of the two right tackles starts Thursday night against Seattle.